Presidential candidates’ education plans leave SHSU students playing waiting game
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:10
A common frustration among students in higher education is the cost of student loans, as well as the availability of other forms of federal financial aid.
The presidential election this November will decide the course our nation takes on issues important to young adults, including education reform.
President Barack Obama signed the Student Aid and Responsibility Act into law. It increased the amount of federal funds to individual Pell Grants in 2010 to $5,500, and subsequently will increase by the rate of inflation plus one percent. The new program impacts nearly eight million students nationwide, and at least 650,000 in Texas.
Obama also reformed federal student loans and the rates at which they are borrowed. The change was apart of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and entails a decrease in the amount of income used to repay student loans (from 15 percent to 10 percent) and will forgive graduates of their debt five years sooner than before (from 25 years to 20 years after graduation).
Opponents to President Obama’s plan say that it will cost too much of taxpayer’s money, and further an entitlement society.
Governor Mitt Romney says on his campaign website that he will “strengthen and simplify the financial aid system,” while “[welcoming] private sector participation instead of pushing it away.”
Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan proposed a budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Under this budget, Pell Grants will be severely diminished, according to US News’ Student Loan Ranger, and more than one million students will lose eligibility.
Jessica Groves, a Sam Houston State University freshman business major, says that she doesn’t think that it’s right for the government to cut back on the grants.
“If you have the money for other stuff [that is less important],” Groves said, “why can’t you spend it on people who need it?”
With potential budget cuts looming in government, areas that involve education seemingly targeted by the Romney campaign. During the first presidential debate of this election cycle, Romney said that he would “stop the subsidies to PBS.”
PBS and NPR are non-profit, viewer/listener supported and government subsidized media outlets that provide free educational programs to areas that can’t afford other mediums of education.
Romney’s plan would privatize the two outlets making them for-profit organizations that will compete alongside some of the biggest media corporations in the world. Critics of pulling funding from public media cite TLC, which was originally a NASA-driven educational channel that was privatized and now shows “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.”
Romney published a plan for restoring our education system in May 2012 titled “A Chance for Every Child”. In this plan, Romney clearly states his opposition to Obama’s reform to student loans by saying, “while President Obama’s idea of sound advice to student borrowers is a promise that their loans will be forgiven if they cannot afford to repay them, Romney supports private-sector involvement to ensure students are clearly informed about their obligations when they apply for federal student loans.”
In this plan, Romney also states that “America is fast becoming a society where education is unaffordable, a government loan is an entitlement, default is the norm, and loan forgiveness is the expectation. America needs a new normal, where college is affordable and paying off debt is achievable.”
Romney’s plan is to bring in more third-party lenders and gut their regulations so that they will be able to lend more, which relieves the government of having to fulfill the need of many new students.
Maxwell Giddens, a third-year design major at Sam Houston State University, says, “I definitely don’t think that it should be purely privatized. I think that both should be competitive of each other.”
The two candidates will square off in the second presidential debate of the year on Oct. 16.